Knoxville police chief speaks about body cameras, or ‘bodycams’

Local News

Could body cameras be in the Knoxville Police Department’s future? Police Chief Eve Thomas says maybe so.

“We’ve had the in-car cameras for quite a while now and they help us. They frankly help us do our job,” Chief Thomas said. “We think body cams would be good in conjunction with our in-car cameras.”

It’s nothing that would happen soon but it is a tool being considered for the years ahead.

The problem is the price tag. 

KPD did the math and found cameras alone would cost the department over $1 million per year of use – that’s  $1,176,000 ever year, to be exact. To break down the numbers, KPD said it would have to purchase 350 different body cameras in total, so that every patrol officer and supervisor had one. Each camera costs approximately $140 every month. That’s a monthly total of $49,000 per officer. 

“It’s an added cost and is the community willing to give us the budget for that? As far as the officers are concerned, if it happens, it happens. It’s a piece of technology that is out there that we may have to use at some point and we are okay with that,” Chief Thomas said.

Chief Thomas says one of her main priorities is improving community relations and establishing community policing. 

No timeline for the possible purchase of the body cameras, or beginning the process – has yet been established. 

A city spokesman offered the City of Knoxville’s position on bodycams:

“Both Mayor Rogero and Chief Thomas are open to the use of body cameras, but the need and demand would have to be shown in order to justify the cost… We know there is a great benefit from the third-person view of existing in-car cameras and from the body microphones that officers wear.  It is not clear that the additional cost of body cams would be of sufficient additional benefit to be worth the cost.  To date, neither the community or law enforcement have requested the body cams.  We will continue to monitor the situation, but for now we don’t see a need to invest in the additional technology.”

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